Last summer Julia Long has finished several translations, which include two Paris Reviews interviews with the American writer Joan Didion. In order to better convey the dialogues about Didion's works, Julia read intensively through her novels and essays. And in the meantime, she began to conceptualize the theme for this exhibition and realised the style of Didion's writing has somehow inspired the works she thus created for this show.
Didion once claimed that 'I'm not much interested in spontaneity. I'm not an inspirational writer. What concerns me is total control.' Inspired by this determination of control, Julia realised that she had never faced the challenge of running out of ideas or inspirations. For her, the real challenge is always the constant status of lacking enough time. If she never curbed her enthusiasm in creating images, there would be endless things to draw. Hence she decided that in this third exhibition at Tabula Rasa Gallery, she would focus on one theme only, that is to document various 'provisional emotions' she experienced.
The works here are of memories and contemporary love life. All these provisional emotions—disappointment, confusion, contempt, and many other lighter ones—are essential subplots of those crucial moments and events Long has experienced. Contrary to her effort of making the works adhere to the theme, she did not care much about control her rapid-fire style of drawing, which vividly depicts the fleeting nature of emotions.
Influenced by her earlier academic training in History (she holds an M.A. in American History from University of Georgia), Julia has developed a writing style that she often tends to eliminate the 'self'. This also affected her ways of drawing. Paradoxically, she rarely controlled her subjects in the previous solo presentations with the gallery, One Eighth of the Narrative (2017) and Meanwhile (2019), where she had positioned herself as an observer. In other words, she tended to avoid the analysis of herself while busy documenting and distilling the history a contemporary life she experienced. (Julia wrote this preface as a Third Person, because she believes that a Third Person is a more objective way to analyse the self.)
Different from her first two solo exhibitions, Provisional Emotions selects images that depict Julia's interiors. We can take these oil and watercolour works as the artist's tool to analyze the self from a distance of an observer, compiling a volume of personal history through provisional emotions.
Press release courtesy Tabula Rasa Gallery.